Water usually does the trick for me when I'm in need of thirst quench-age, but on Saturday night I was...running out of water. And I wanted something else while walking through the muggy air filling the dark deserted streets of NYC. So while walking from Japan Society (where lots of cool movies are playing this week) to Penn Station, I stopped into a random deli with just one beverage on my mind.
Orangina. The bubbly, orange, not entirely artificial (hey, there's pulp!) beverage of my youth. It was one of the few sodas I didn't have to fight my mildly health nutty mum over to let enter our house, meaning that—to fulfill my role as an annoying daughter—I asked for it a lot. But hey, better than screaming for sugary cereals and candy, right? Right.
Orangina also reminds me of Paris, in particular hanging out in a park while sharing a six-pack and baguette with some friends. It's one of the best memories I have. That might be sad. But if you tried it, I bet it'd be a good memory for you too.
Now for some...real food.
Last-last Wednesday (yes, I am that far behind) I went to Menchanko-Tei with Beth and her boyfriend, David. I had never been there before, but I heard it was good for ramen. And you know how I like my ramen. I like...eating it.
Beth started off with a calamari salad. It's like regular salad, but with deep fried squid rings. Yeah! Yeah. The calamari didn't look like any fried calamari I had ever seen—they were so dainty and uniform looking—but they tasted good, so who gives a crap? Not me. No craps are given.
We also shared dumplings. David called the crispy blackened underside of the dumplings "butts". It made so much sense, I was mad that I hadn't thought of it first. And it's just the kind of thing that I would say. Because I like to say inappropriate things.
I ordered their basic bowl of ramen with fried chicken and extra pork. Sadly, this was not a revelatory ramen eating experience. The noodles were a little too soft for my taste, the broth wasn't especially flavorful, and the pork was disappointingly tough and missing the "mm, melting fat" factor. I liked the chunks of fried chicken and loads of thick, crunchy cabbage bits, but noodles and broth are kind of the key. I wasn't feeling it. Sigh.
Maybe I should've gotten David's curry ramen. Then the broth would taste like...curry. CURRY IS AWESOME.
Or maybe I should've gotten Beth's shoyu ramen, bursting with soy sauce goodness.
Ah well. It wasn't really bad, it just wasn't as good as I was expecting it to be. I still crave Minca's thick sodium-tastic broth.
Of course, a so-so dinner can be lifted by the inclusion of gelato. Gelato is also good at making one happy after a crappy day, or making one happier after a happy day, or destroying one's diet. It has multiple uses! So versatile!
The closest source of gelato in the area is in the food-filled basement of Grand Central Terminal at Ciao Bella. It might be the most worthwhile place to eat at down there. It's not just gelato, but good gelato. Gelato whose flavors don't taste like crap. That's important because sometimes the flavors do taste like crap. Yes. (Can you tell that I'm writing this after midnight? I CAN!!! I CAN FEEL IT IN MY WOBBLY BRAINMEATS.)
My cup of pistachio (with chunks of pistachio and thankfully no bright-green food coloring) and strawberry sorbet was refreshing. Creaminess, good flavors, and not too much sweetness; that's all I want, yeah? One of these factors is usually screwed up, but Ciao Bella does a good job of not screwing up. I clap for them. Clap clap. David got a cup of strawberry and balsamic vinegar, which tasted like strawberry aside from the pockets of vinegar surprise that kinda just attacked your tastebuds without warning, like "BOOYA I AM AN UNEXPECTED FLAVOR, HA HA, I BET YOU DON'T LIKE ME THAT MUCH." Because in my mind, vinegar talks like a shouting lunatic. Beth's deep purple jasmine cassis sorbet was strongly fruity and, I'm assuming, tasted like whatever jasmine cassis is supposed to taste like.
Beth and David were awesome people to go fooding with. They're cute, funny, and, most importantly, didn't mind me dragging them to eat wherever I wanted to. "RAWR, NOW WE WILL EAT RAMEN. RAWR, NOW WE WILL EAT GELATOOO. RAWR, WHY DO I SOUND LIKE A DINOSAUR?" I guess it's not too hard to follow those orders. :)
Last-last Friday Amy and I meant to eat dinner at Sakagura, but found out that without a reservation we would have to wait 45 minutes. Which wasn't cool. Not to me at least, for I am...impatient.. So we roamed around the Grand Central Terminal area and came across Muldoon's. Since I had never eaten at an Irish pub before, I figured...why not? And what the hell is Irish pub food anyway?
POTATO SKINS! Maybe. Well. Amy wanted them and I like potatoes stuffed with melted cheese and crispy bacon bits as much as the next person, assuming that the next person likes potatoes, cheese, and bacon bits. I also liked that they were also on a bed of shredded lettuce, almost like we were eating a tiny salad garnished with baked potatoes halves. Which would be a pretty damn tasty salad. Or "salad."
Don't ask why I felt compelled to get a sliced steak sandwich drowning in gravy and piled with sauteed onions. None of it sent my tastesbuds to heaven, but it was enjoyable for what it was. Lots of meat. On bread. With a thicken sauce of meat water and fat. And onions. And fries. So many fries. I ate a little more than half of it before waving my white flag that said, "Holy shizz I am stuffed."
...Although not so stuffed that I couldn't dig a few forkfuls out of Amy's neatly piped mashed potato mountain. She ate both her crabcakes but preferred to get most of her potato-matter from the potato skins that I had abandoned after I started filling my stomach with steak. I really liked the light, peppery mashed potatoes. Actually, I'm a fan of most mashed potatoes as long as they're seasoned well enough and not too watery or paste-like.
Our waitress sounded Irish. REAL IRISH PEOPLE! IN AN IRISH PUB...wait, that's not very surprising. I hadn't recalled ever meeting an Irish person before though (yeah, really can't), so I'd say it was somewhat cool.
Amy and I are going to Sakagura this Friday, this time with RESERVATIONS. You'll hear about it later.
It's a mall. A giant mall. Of things you don't want.
I celebrated America's day of independence with my brother Bert and friend Jesse by visiting a symbol of our country's freedom and glory and contribution to the world: the King of Prussia Mall. It's a giant mall in Pennsylvania, you see. It's big. And. ...Um. It's also the halfway point between my home in NJ and Jesse's home in Maryland, about two hours away for each of us.
(A little history: Jesse is a mutual friend of my brother and me from Taiwan. He's my age and we've been friends since 6th grade. You can do the math if you feel like. I wouldn't say we're very close friends, but we're very comfortable friends. He even came with me to my senior prom [due to his school being shut down early by SARS, hahahaha]...not that we danced or anything, as we preferred playing card games all night. By the way, if you're in high school and aren't sure if you want to go to your senior prom, I'd say don't. Spend your money on something awesomer, like...anything.)
So. I had actually visited the mall once before when I was little, at which point it felt impressively large. On this visit however, it seemed less big and not very interesting. I think I've been desensitized by going to malls near my house for too long. There's nothing else to do here, man, nuuthiiinnggguhh. (Besides go to NYC, something that I do most of the time.)
For lunch we went to California Pizza Kitchen, another place that I had definitely liked better when I was a kid before being desensitized by eating lots of good pizza in the past few years.
Not that it's horrible or anything. I went with a healthy-sounding pizza topped with baby broccoli, grilled Japanese eggplant, roasted corn, sliced red onions, mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, and mozzarella cheese. With so many tasty vegetables, I thought it would be...tastier. Instead, it was rather meh. Meh. What is meh? Meh. You'll know when you taste it. It looked better than it tasted. Perhaps if all the vegetables had been cooked in butter, it would've been better. Yes. Butter. I would've preferred the onions cooked instead of semi-raw. And I would've liked more eggplant considering that the pizza was named after it. But...whatever. It wasn't bad. The toppings may not have tasted like much, but I'd say it was somewhat balanced and not drowning in cheese.
I had problems with the crust. The thickness was fine, but it had no...personality? Like it couldn't crack a joke if I had asked it to. Partially because dough can't talk. But even if it could talk, it wouldn't have any jokes to tell. It required very little chewing and just didn't have much flavor. Which was a problem the whole pizza seemed to have. On the upside, it held up to the toppings well. A crust that has been soggified by its toppings is quite sad indeedio.
Maybe Bert's and Jesse's pizzas were better. They finished them, at least. I ate about 3/4ths of my pizza and Jesse finished the rest for me. Yay, human waste bin! That's usually the role that I play.
California Pizza Kitchen isn't a bad place to eat in the mall, but there are better choices. I think I would've enjoyed Chick-fil-A more.
We checked out Five Below whose wall of candy I found to be most awesome and impressive, until a cashier shouted that no photos were allowed, at which point I vowed to steal all of Five Below's secrets, which go something like this:
- Price everything at $5 or below.
- Display candy on shelves in neatly stacked boxes.
I would've never figured this out had I not taking a photo of the store. Never. By posting this photo and these secrets, I will cause great harm to the Five Below empire and thus fulfill my duty on earth.
What makes the King of Prussia Mall slightly cooler than other malls is that they have at least two gelato counters. GELATO! It's not as good as Ciao Bella, but it's still gelato. It's still vaguely magical.
On the left is my older brother Bert and on the right our friend Jesse. They probably wouldn't be happy to know that I put this photo up since neither of them look very good. But too late. OOPS.
My brother inherited some genes that somehow prevent him from ever getting fat. I didn't inherit the genes. Made evident by my smushy arms.
The three of us shared a large cup of pistachio and cookies and cream. The pistachio wasn't bad...or great. Same with cookies and cream, which needed a lot more cookie to go with its cream. Still, it was an enjoyable experience—mediocre gelato still tastes good.
We roamed around for a few hours, during which I entered many clothing stores and exited many clothing stores. At the end of the day, my total clothing expenditure was $0 due to a mixture of me being picky and not fitting very well into anything. I have an awkward body structure: squat and semi-flabby.
That night my mum, brother and I went to Tawara where I ordered...oh, you'll never guess...
RAMEN! Oh. Okay, you're not surprised. They call it chanpon for being topped with lots of things like shrimp, calamari, pork, and cabbage. The pork was too tough for my taste, but I enjoyed the firm noodles and the miso broth.
My mum's fried noodles topped with perhaps the same stuff that my noodles were topped with may have been better. I ate a few chunks of the crispy fried noodle matter, like eating a cake...of fried noodles. Fried...deliciousness...friednoodleraft...
...It's almost 2 AM. THIS IS WHERE I STOP. Sorry. Next week's entry should be better because I probably won't write it in the wee hours of the morning. I'm supposed to wake up in less than 6 hours. Arghghgh why did I waste my whole night watching videos on YouTube? Whyyy?
BILL AND TED, WHY MUST YOU DISTRACT ME?! (Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure used to be one of my favorite movies. Hell yeah, I'm not afraid to admit it. That trailer sucks though.)